Friday, May 31, 2013

#Bianchi Winery-Paso Robles Wine Day!

Good wine is about great stories and great stories are told the day after. Well, I didn't have time to tell this story last week until I got back to Texas. I was in California visiting my oldest daughter and her family and we decided to take a quick trip over to Paso Robles Wine Country to discover award-winning wines and breathtaking views. We had just missed the WIne Festival that occurs the third weekend in May in Downtown Paso Robles. But that was okay. We had a short festival of our own. My daughter hired a driver for her car and I researched the wineries I wanted to visit. We made it to five wineries in about 3 1/2 hours because we had to get back by the time the girls got home from school. Whew! It was fast but fun!
The first winery we stopped at was Bianchi Winery. The tasting room is set in the estate vineyards with beautiful terraces and a waterfall-fed lake full of carp. They specialize in Zinfandel, Cabernet, and Petite Sirah, but also offer a wide selection of white varietals.

Bianchi Winery
 Their tasting room entrance!

 The staff poured us anything we wanted to taste!

 Beautiful place to have a picnic by their lake!

I bought the Signature Selection, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lakeside Ranch ($28) for Don and a Signature Series, 2011 Pinot Grigio, Santa Barbara County($21) for me. The Cab has  "many layers with coffee-berry flavors and a velvety cocoa finish." The Pinot is "marine-influenced producing fruit with exotic floral, kiwi and lichi aromas." It is smooth and yummy!
Next time I will share the second place we stopped, which was on Adelaida Road.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Chateau Malescot St. Excupery 2006 Margaux

I just had THE best Bordeaux wine I have ever had! And I can't stop drinking it. Every time my husband pours a glass and leaves the room for a few minutes, he comes back to an empty glass because I have drank it all. It is so smooth and goes down so easily that I can't resist it. 
This wine is undoubtedly the best red wine I have had in days. It can be traced all the way back to 1616. It is predominately Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cab Franc.  "Smoke, tobacco, cassis, cocoa and herbs with a sprig of mint created the perfume. With 4 hours of air, from time combined in the decanter and glass, the wine doesn't lose that dry sensation from the tannins. The cassis filled finish will probably always be on the austere side of the style range for Malescot St. Exupery." And we didn't even decanter it. We just drank it right from the bottle (well poured in a glass). You want a great red wine to drink tonight? Run out and get this wine! You will thank me for it within minutes of drinking it! It is $60 a bottle, but worth every penny! I can guarantee it! 
Someone gave us this wine, and I'm about to call them and thank them over and over! It is that awesome! It sells for about $60 a bottle and every ounce is delicious!!!!!!
Drink up and enjoy! YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED! 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Wine Wars-For Wine Geeks and Wannabes!

The first time I played this game I didn't know anything about wine and I almost won just from guessing. Don says I probably knew more than I let on. You've got to get this game. It's a trivia game kinda like Trivial Pursuit that tests your knowledge of the fruit-of-the-vine. But before playing, of course you have to pour a glass of your favorite wine. It's fun to play this game singly or in teams. 
Wine Wars includes 150 cards with 750 questions and answers, 6 game boards, 1 die, and a front/back illustrated regional map of the new and old wine world. The categories are "Vine to Vino", which is about growing grapes, making wine, and world production. There's "Grapeosphere" which is the varieties of grapes, their wines and geography. Another category is "Wine Cellar" that deals with selecting, storing and tasting wine. "Wine and Food" encompasses cooking with wine, pairing foods with wines, and wine service. And last "Cork Culture" that is about the wine people, business, arts and sciences and just trivia. 
The playing pieces are tiny wine bottle are colored coded for each category and fit into slots in your playing card, if you get an answer correct.

I've learned a great deal from just studying the new world and old world maps. It stays folded up in the tiny box, so I didn't take a picture of it. Here is a close-up of what a trivia card looks like!

 Answer this if you can! What wine was born of a Napa-Bordeaux joint venture between Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi?

If you click on the link, you'll find out! And when you do, it's an amazing website and very personal. You have to make reservations with them by phone to taste their wines. 

And by the way, these wines sell for $200 and up! If you purchase, you have to purchase six bottles. I'm putting this on my wish list to visit when I'm in Oakville, CA (Napa)! It looks like an amazing winery. When old and new world styles join together to create a place of opulence and noteworthy style, I'm there! Enjoy! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Melville Vineyards and Winery-Our Last St. Ynez Valley Stop!

Our last stop on the trail of wines in the St. Ynez Valley took us to Lompoc, California where we found a Mediterranean-style estate winery tasting room and some great wines.
It's so beautiful, I had to post two of the photos I took. There's Don standing in the doorway!  

They have a picturesque garden area and courtyard where you can have lunch and drink their wines. The Melville wines are exclusively grown and produced from their vineyards and by their winery. The wine we tasted and bought that day was the
 2010 Estate Chardonnay-Verna's which sells for about $24 a bottle. Click on the name for tasting notes.

We also bought the 2010 Estate Syrah-Donna's, which is what we are drinking in the picture below. Click on the link to read the notes about this wine named after Ron Melville's wife, Donna. This wine has a silky texture with luscious fruit taste at an affordable price of $24.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Fisher Vineyards Wine Dinner

Last fall, DCC hosted a wine dinner as they usually do about five times a year, bringing in some famous (in my book) winemakers with their wines. In November of 2012, we were privileged to taste the wines from Fisher Vineyards and meet Cameron Fisher, the last of the family to work at the vineyard. She even has a bottle of wine named after her! 
Cameron was so sweet and shared her life story with the small group of people in the Founder's Room at the club. She autographed the evening menu for us.
Fisher Vineyards are located in the Mayacama Mountains with 100 acres and 57 acres in Napa Valley on the Silverado Trail. The proprietor says they are "small in size, but great in scope." They are truly a boutique winery and I am singing their praises. This is one bottle of  wine we bought that night. Click on the link to read the winemaker's notes. Reading them makes me want to open the bottle in the middle of the day.
2007 Coach Insignia 
This bottle sells for around $80, but really, you won't regret it. I plan to visit their vineyard in June or October. 
Now, another bottle of wine from this winemaker was given to us by a man that works for Don. He and his wife were our guests for dinner that night. They secretly bought us a bottle of the Wedding Vineyard as a gift this past January. They signed the bottle with the date of our wedding and their names, etc. How sweet was that! We're saving it for an anniversary. The label got a little messed up with red wine dripping on it from a bottle that my husband put in the cellar on the top rack. From this point on, that is a definite no-no!!!!! 

We did taste this wine the night of the dinner and it was delicious. I am not a wine snob, but just a woman tasting and enjoying wines with my husband. This wine is a tribute to the owner's anniversary in 1975 and sells anywhere from $120-$140. Very nice wedding gift I should say!


Friday, May 17, 2013

Imagery Estate Winery-Gorgeous Labels!

I love it when we get a surprise shipment of wine from Imagery Estate Winery! These wines are small, artisan wines in limited production from lesser known varietals.The Benziger family migrated to Sonoma in the 80's and began making wines in Glen Ellen, California. Imagery wine evolved under the direction of Joe Benziger when he noticed there were a few vineyard lots that were "special". 
 What makes it so exciting to open the box is that the labels are amazing! There are several artists working on labels at any given time and each label must have a depiction of the Parthenon somewhere in it. That is its connection to the Parthenon on the Benziger property.
Here is my 2011 White Burgundy, North Coast. Note the curling iron and the paper laid out in the shape of the Parthenon. How creative is that! Must have been designed by a woman, right? Yep, it was designed by Cybele Young of Ontario, Canada. 
This wine is a blend of mainly Chardonnay and Pinto Blanc, and a little amount of Pinot Meunier. This wine has "aromas of red berry, tropical fruit and a bright crispness." It would be great with seafood which I love! It sells for about $30 a bottle.
Here is the 2010 Dragonsleaf Syrah. Don's wine comes with a more bold label to complement what's inside the bottle, which lends itself to barbeque dishes such as beef brisket or pork ribs. The tasting notes say "this wine boasts flavors of plum, dried cherry, blackberry, currant, and licorice."
 This label was designed by Tony Berlant, of Santa Monica, CA. 

If you ever get to Sonoma, and please do, go to Glen Ellen, stay at the Glen Ellen Inn or the Gaige House, which I love!!!!! You'll be ever so pleased! 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Noshing at Nosh Euro Bistro!

Don and I recently went out to eat (which we do about 5 times a week) at Nosh. We had only been there one other time and really had fun. They had sat us where we could watch the cooks do their magic in the kitchen. We visited with the chef and got extra-special attention sitting there. It's worth the time to make a reservation and ask for the seats at the kitchen counter (so to speak)!
This is what you see when you sit there! Pretty fun! But last time we went, we sat at a regular white linen-covered table in the open seating area. We ordered a bottle of wine that I had never had before, but Don had. Here's his take on his visits to this winery. (This was before I knew him.) He loves their wine, but not the tasting room staff. Both times he's been there, he has experienced a not-so-pleasant staff. We had driven by their winery last summer and he wouldn't stop. I told him one day he would have to forgive them and take me there! Maybe the third time will be the charm.
Our waiter  brought us a bottle of 2010 "Estate" Russian River Valley Rochioli Chardonnay. Now I have to say that this is an excellent Chardonnay. Wine Spectator gives it a 92. "It is full bodied, rich and layered, with honeysuckle, smoke, roasted fig and melon flavors that are pure and focused, subtle and persistent." I say buy it! It is soooo good! It sells for $60 a bottle.  I know that is a bit pricey! But remember, life is too short to drink cheap wine!
Here's my plate of lamb chops, lamb sausage, and filet medallions! You are probably wondering why I didn't order a red wine!.......well, I wanted white! I know that some people say red wine pairs with meat and white wine pairs with fish, chicken, etc But I say, drink what you want to drink. 
And Don always surprises me with something new to try when we dine out! Thanks honey! 

Until next time......

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Boutique Winery and Vineyard!

During our Santa Barbara adventure we took a day to tour wineries in and around Solvang, California. One of the boutique wineries our driver took us to was Rusack Winery.
Their property is beautiful and they live in the house right next door to their tasting room. They only have 48 acres of vines which makes this winery a real "boutique" winery.
Don is drinking the Syrah as I write this post. It is so good I can't even begin to explain how good it is! This family knows what they are doing and have done so since 1995. Not very old, but very wise and delicious. This Rusack Syrah, Ballard Canyon Estate Reserve, 2010, is "abundant with boysenberry, blueberry, and hints of cinnamon. Its dense fruit characteristics are complimented by complex flavors of anise, vanilla, and dark chocolate."

This Syrah sells for $25 a bottle on their website and this is the only place you can buy it. I would order right now if I were you!

 We also bought a  2011 Chardonnay that is just as excellent! You can't go wrong with anything you order. But if you don't take my word for it, visit Solvang for yourself and see the beautiful rolling hills and this quaint tasting room! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Oh, the Wonderful April Climate in Colorado!

You know how one always checks the local weather of the destination in which they are about to be traveling? There had been snow in Colorado Springs a few days before we arrived for the Vistage retreat at the Broadmoor. I had packed a couple of jackets to wear over my spring outfits, which was a good thing. The nights were cool and windy, but the days were warm and beautiful.
Some of our friends in this organization had arrived before us and had a jump on relaxing and enjoying this fabulous resort near Cheyenne Mountain. One special couple, Beth and Eric, surprised us by leaving a gift at the front desk. 
Here's what they gave us! I had just had this in a restaurant this past week and loved it! Needless to say, I was very excited and grateful.

Au Bon Climat is known to be rich and creamy and before you know it, the bottle will be drained. I prefer a light and crisp Chardonnay, but I loved this wine. It sells for somewhere in the low $20s, depending on where you purchase it.
This is the sweet note attached to the wine. We did have loads of fun with them and the entire group. I have other wines and stories from this retreat to share next time.

Don't forget: Keep calm and drink wine!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

This Time I Drank It!

After my Chardonnay Sugar Scrub at the Broadmoor Hotel Resort and Spa, I joined the rest of the group at the Hotel Bar by the lake. It was a beautiful day considering there was snow on the ground five days earlier.
All the ladies wanted to know how the spa experience was and what I brought back with me. In my last post I showed a picture of the body moisturizer I had bought. It really does have a hint of grapes to the aroma. After having any kind of massage or treatment at a spa, they always tell you to drink a lot of water. Well, I did... along with a glass of Chardonnay as well. 

The wine I chose was Markham Chardonnay, Napa Valley. It is balanced with vanilla, baked apple, tropical fruit, and lemon with a rich, generous finish.

It sells for $18 a bottle on their beautiful website. I feel like this is a reasonable price for a good wine. It can be paired with your delicious risotto or with something simple such as barbecue. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Chardonnay Sugar Scrub! Ouch!

We all know that it is a proven fact that a daily glass of wine has health benefits, but do we know how beneficial wine is when applied directly to the skin? I am bound and determined to find out soon!
Last weekend we were at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. This resort boasts a Forbes Five-Star rated, luxurious spa that is out of this world. When I received the itinerary for the trip, I viewed the spa services in the menu online. I found something very interesting other than the typical massage or facial (and let me say that nothing is typical at the Broadmoor). A Chardonnay Sugar Scrub caught my eye! I had never had a sugar scrub, much less one that had Chardonnay in it. I had never even heard of it, but apparently it's not a new thing after I started doing some research. 

I booked my appointment and couldn't wait. The staff wanted me to arrive 20 minutes early to enjoy all the spa has to offer other than my sugar scrub. I arrived, changed, and found the aromatherapy room with relaxing music playing softly in the background. Now, the actual scrub itself was amazing, and made me feel truly pampered. The aroma of the Chardonnay grape seed extract in the oils and sugar scrub were filling the air in the dimly lit room. The warm water of the triple shower heads above me washed away all the free radicals had done to my skin in the past winter months, leaving the oils on my skin. The application of the Chardonnay Wine Therapy readily absorbed into my skin leaving it soft and silky. This was truly an unforgettable experience.

After sitting in the dry sauna for a bit sipping cucumber water, reading a magazine in the Fireside Lounge and viewing the breathtaking mountains in the Mountain View room, I changed back into my clothes and left The Spa. Oh, before I checked out I was sure to purchase a bottle of the Chardonnay Wine Therapy antioxidant body moisturizer as a reminder of what I had just experienced. I headed to the outside fireplace bar where my husband and the rest of the group had gathered for some therapy of their choice. My choice of grape therapy was a glass of......what else, but Chardonnay! Hey, it was all over me from head to toe! Why not drink it now! 

Next post, I share what that Chardonnay was......